The "Kit Lens" zoom

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by johnw63, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. About two years ago, I asked about the basic 18-XXmm lenses, since I didn't have anything wider than 24mm, on film. I've reread that thread, and looked at the usual lens review sites. Has anything changed or new lenses come out that are worth looking at for DX cameras ?
    I've read up on , the three Nikkors, 18-35mm, 18-55mm, and 18-70mm , as well as the suggested Tamron 17-50mm ( Which there seems to be 2 versions of, now. )
    Looking at the price/performance of each, the 18-70mm , which is selling at about $150-$200 on eBay seems to be the bargain. I tried finding it at KEH or B and H or Adorama and they didn't have it used.
  2. john, the 17-50 tamron --which has three different versions, actually--is not a kit lens, but a constant 2.8. it has been joined by the sigma 17-50 OS HSM. so, with the tamron's VC, there are now two sub-$700 2.8 wide-mid zooms with stabilization, while the nikon 17-55 costs $1400 and has no stabilization. bargains are relative, but the best bargain lens is probably the 18-55 VR refurb.
  3. The 18-70 is indeed a bargain.
  4. The Nikon 18-35 ED IF is also very worth considering.
  5. Eric,
    I know the Tamron is not a "kit" lens, but it was suggested in the original thread, so I mentioned it here. It's also in the "kit lens" zoom range.
    The funny thing is I got three responses, so far, and all three Kit lenses are suggested. Cool.
  6. The 18-105 isn't bad either, and it has VR.
  7. It depends on how you define worthwhile. The main 18-xx Nikon made lenses are currently the 18-55 VR, 18-105 VR and 18-200 VR. (The 18-70 is discontinued, only available used, and is a nice sharp lens but without VR; there is no good reason to buy the 18-135 non-VR.) The 18-200 has the usual superzoom caveats - you sacrifice some quality (distortion, sharpness) for the convenience. The 18-55 is better, optically, than most people give it credit for, but its build quality is the worst of the group, the front rotates while focusing and manual focusing is a real chore (unlike other AFS lenses it needs its AF/MF switch on MF). So of the three current 18-xx models I'd take the 18-105 - more convenience than the 18-55 with similar image quality, better MF and build and the front element doesn't rotate.
    The other current "kit"-ish lens I'd consider is the Sigma 17-70 with OS. It's better built than the Nikon kit zooms, a bit faster and image quality is similar-to-better. The Tamron 17-50 VC stands out too, as a value option, but I wouldn't call it "kit" because it's a constant 2.8 and it's a value option when compared to a Nikon 2.8 zoom.
  8. Can we please keep the definitions straight? A kit lens is one that came bundled with a camera as a kit.
    -Your friendly local curmudgeon.
  9. The one to get is the 16-85 VR DX.
  10. The 18-70 is a wonderful lens. Had one, sold it when I got an 18-200 VR and after about two months got another 18-70 to go with the 18-200. There are just some places where the lighter, more compact lens is great to have--and it's sharper than the 18-200, too.
  11. Dan, I agree. The Nikon 16-85mm VR DX zoom lens is the best of them all. Not sure if this can be called a "kit lens" but it is a noticeable improvement over any of the Nikon 18-nnn kit lenses.
  12. Yet, for two years, you haven't figured out which "kit" lens fit yourself better? In that case, I'll go with the 18-200mm. After 6 months of use, sell it and buy the range that fit your vision best...
  13. Forget the 16-85. Kit lens optics + $5 worth of metal bits = $620. For that money, buy the Tamron and a case of beer.
  14. Andrew, have you even shot with the 16-85mm? I've owned two of them and both performed equally as superbly. The Tamron has a worse zoom range, has no internal focusing motor, and no VR. Doesn't really compare, does it? Unless the OP simply can't do without a constant f2.8 zoom, the 16-85mm VR is the best of the bunch in every area.
  15. My father has the 16-85, I see him on trips and I've used it a lot. Have you used a kit zoom recently? The image quality is the same. I've got stuff in my collection shot with a 16-85, an 18-55, an 18-105, and a previous model Sigma 17-70 and you can't see the difference in the prints. The only way the 16-85 is better than any of those is build quality.
    The 16-85 gives excellent image quality. But so do the other options that cost much less.
    Now, the Tamron is a 17-50, which is less tele, but the same $620 that the 16-85 costs actually does buy you the version that has built in motor and VC (which is Tamron for VR) plus a case of beer, and the Tamron is optically better and f/2.8 - it's still not at the Nikon 17-55 level but it's a better lens than the 16-85 for less money. I've only shot with the previous version but I haven't read anything that says the new one is worse, so I can say that confidently.
  16. Leslie,
    I have yet to buy a DX body camera. Getting a 18-XXmm lens would be pointless, with my F4. Two years ago, I was eying the D200. It had gotten really discounted. The D7000 has gotten my interest, as well as a possible discounted D300s. In any case, I will need something wider than my 24mm, when I purchase something digital.
    For the curmudgeon,
    This range is often covered by a "kit" lens, which is why I titled the thread with that phrase, knowing full well that there are lenses, NOT sold as a kit, but that cover this range. It was simpler to simply say that, than come up with a short way of saying, " Those less costly lenses that have a limited range, and often start at about 18mm and may be good deals now. "
  17. I like wides so I would pick the 16-85mm or 17-50mm, John and both have IS. If you like tele more then the 18-105 VR would fit you better. There are people on both camp, constant 2.8 and better range. You gotta figure out which fit your needs/style better...
  18. I was planing on just using the short end, and once I got in the 24mm and above I could use my existing lenses. However, the dust on the sensor issue might make me consider things differently.
  19. I've owned, used and evaluated the Tamron 17-50mm, Nikon 18-70mm, Nikon 18-200mm and Nikon 16-85mm. Of these, the only one I have kept is the 16-85mm. The Tamron's focusing was slow and twitchy on the D300, but IQ was excellent. The 18-200mm was hopeless above 70mm. The 18-70 had decent sharpness and focusing but no VR (needed really at 70mm in lowish light). The 16-85mm is excellent overall - good focus speed, sharp at all focal lengths, effective VR, metal lens mount. The slight minus is f5.6 at the long end. I've yet to try the 18-105mm, but believe from what I read that it is decent but with a plastic mount and some corner softness. Of the 'kit lenses' the 18-105mm would seem to be the one to go for as part of a bundle - at the right price.
  20. John,
    If you still have to get the DX body, the biggest bargains are buying lenses as kit, so either 18-55VR or 18-105VR. The latter one is nicer (I think), mostly because it has a manual focus override (so "full" AF-S) and a focus ring made for human hands. Image quality wise, they all perform well. Buying them as kit makes them ultra-cheap.
    I've had the 18-70, which sure was a lot of very good lens for a very good price. It is still a bargain. Nowadays, I have the 16-85VR, which is an excellent allrounder. Not cheap, but good and 16mm is your films 24mm. That extra bit of wideness is very nice. No experience with the f/2.8 lenses mentioned, though - for fast, I take primes.
    Dust on the sensor - it's annoying, but it happens anyway and it's visible only every now and then. I would not worry too much over it. I rather edit out a small dust blemish than having a compromise lens so I have to switch less.
  21. I really like the 18-55VR lens. Small, cheap (I trashed a few I am ashamed to admit) and with very good optics for the money.
    Still use it on a D70S, used it extensively on a D300 (a.o. for weddings) and still ocassionally use it on a D2X
  22. Something Wouter mentioned just stuck in my head. Manual Focus override. Since I am coming from a bag of MF lenses, I know I'm going to want to reach up and focus the lens. Is the 18-105mm the only one that has that ? What happens if I give the lens a twist and it's NOT an override lens and in the wrong mode ?
  23. All of these AF-S lenses, and the Sigma 17-70 OS and I think the Tamron 17-50 VC, let you grab the focus ring and manually override the AF, except the 18-55 kit lens and the 55-200 and 55-300 - with those, the focus ring will not move (or maybe it will if you force it, I never tried, but you shouldn't) when the switch is on AF. Then if you switch it to MF the focus rings have lousy feel and the travel distance is all wrong. If you want to manually focus, don't get those lenses.
  24. Of the Nikon 18-x lenses, I think only the 18-55 ('cut-down' AF-S) and 18-35 (older AF-D design) lack the instant manual override feature. Even the 18-70 ('full' AF-S) has it. I don't know how easily the lenses without this feature can be damaged by attempting to twist them in AF mode.
    Has anyone compared the distortion at the wide end of the various 18-x lenses? The complex barrel distortion of the otherwise excellent 18-70 at around 18 is its one significant weakness, but from what I recall reading the others are no better.
  25. Well you will feel them gears grind. Depends on how hard you do it I guess.
    I have owned the Tamron 17-50 (sharp, no built in motor) & 18-135 (AF-S but not as sharp as some say. Lotsa CA).
    I currently use the 35/1.8 AF-S (great, no complaints); 60/2.8 AF-S Micro (Yummy, MF override is a bonus here); the 18-55 VR (nice, use as backup, no MF override); and 18-70 (Sharp, small, light, AF-S, decent build, and it's 3.5-4.5, not 5.6. Which ain't a lot but hey.) Only downside it isnt a "virrr" lens. But do you need VR at 70mm??
  26. John,
    Only the 18-55, of all mentioned lenses, does not have the manual focus override.
    What happens if I give the lens a twist and it's NOT an override lens and in the wrong mode ?​
    Luckily the manual focus ring of the 18-55 is so extremely tiny that this risk is near zero ;-)
  27. More thoughts on the same subject.
    Many of the reviews have things to say about the performance at 18mm. Since I'll be using this lens to replicate my 24mm field of view, which one performs the best AT 18mm ? I know my best bey MAY be to get a wider zoom that has the 18mm range not at the extreme end. Tokina 12-24mm, maybe ? At under 200 bucks, the Nikon 18-70 with metal construction and dust seals has my eye, but the "complex distortion at 18mm " is a put off. Will my landscape shots reveal that ?
  28. I have the 18-70. I have taken hundreds of real estate photos at 18mm and have always been satisfied with IQ. This lens and the 80-400vr are the two lens that go on vacation with me. I am happy with my landscape shots at 18mm. I have no experience with the 12-24 but recently purchased the Tokina 11-16 as an ultra wide for interior real estate. I am very impressed with the build quality and IQ of the Tokina. The tokina is not AFS if that matters. If you need the range of 18-70 get the Nikon. If you want the ability of an ultra wide at 12mm ,don't need above 24mm and AFS is not important get the Tokina.

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